Many Africans and some Zimbabweans, including Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who argue vehemently against continued international political restrictions on Zimbabwe, have completely got their coordinates wrong.
“Promises of reform” in the face of strangled civil and political liberties of Zimbabweans are not sufficient ingredient for the recipe of total democratisation that we demand before first lady Mrs. Grace Mugabe is allowed to be part of the glitz and glamour of London’s Harrods high society again. For those of us who bear the full brunt of dictatorship, anything that adds melody to the soundtrack of misery on those who oppress us is sweet music! That is how trivial we want to be.
So far, Mutambara and his boss, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirayi are yet to convince anyone but themselves that the road to reform is straight and wide. Zimbabweans have one daily newspaper. Neither CNN nor BBC is allowed to practise the noble profession of journalism in the country. Journalists still have to go to court to prove their worth. There are hundreds of political prisoners languishing in jail. Women rights activist Jenny Williams is still being arrested for demonstrating peacefully.
We have a ZANU-PF loyalist and farm invasion beneficiary Johannes Tomana masquerading as ‘attorney general’, while state-controlled Herald and ZBC still spew toxic anti-democracy propaganda. There is not a single independent television or radio station licenced to do business in Zimbabwe, while thousands of commercial farmers who were illegally dispossessed of their properties are either in exile or destitute in Zimbabwe. If Mr. Tsvangirayi and Mr. Mutambara think this is ‘progress’, then perhaps I need more English lessons.
South Africa’s International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has joined the vocal clutter of high profile Africans who want to let Robert Mugabe off the hook. She talks about giving peace and development a chance in Zimbabwe by striking ZANU-PF apologists from the list of restrictions! Peace and development have never been more simplistic!
Vice president Mrs. Joyce Mujuru is quoted as telling Zimbabweans that peace and reconciliation is a process of ‘talking to each other.” No! Peace and development will only prevail when the articulate ZANU-PF machinery of repression has been completely and utterly dismantled. Reconciliation is about ZANU-PF loyalists first asking their neighbours for forgiveness, and then paying back each and every morsel of assets they plundered. They are the ones who burnt homes, raped women, beat up people and forcibly took their cattle, goats and chickens. It is ZANU-PF that arrested, detained and tortured citizens in June 2008.
So, as long as ZANU-PF is in government, and they have not converted, all restrictions on international travel and trade imposed on them should remain intact. That is the brand of reconciliation commensurate with the benchmarks of civilisation. Besides, who says Zimbabwe has graduated from its aura of ‘failed state’?
According to Wikipedia, Crisis States Research Centre defines “a “failed state” as a condition of “state collapse” – i.e., a state that can no longer perform its basic security and development functions and that has no effective control over its territory and borders or can no longer reproduce the conditions for its own existence. Zimbabwe perfectly fits this description.
It therefore takes large–scale national amnesia and chronic, if not endemic denial to tell the world that Zimbabwe is now in the process of transformation and so outside the failed state paradigm to the point of deserving ‘aid’.
Aid, Mugabe and 12 million Zimbabweans
Liberal activist James Shikwati of Kenya, and firebrand economist Dambisa Moyo of Zambia have it on record that aid, in whatever form, is not good for African countries. In Zimbabwe, there is empirical evidence that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, under the carnal tutelage of one Gideon Gono, took World Health Organisation ‘aid’ money and channeled it to political party programs.
When Tsvangirayi and Mutambara participate in the anti-sanctions symphony, they are not driven by greed like their ZANU-PF, but by a genuine desire to reconstruct their country, Zimbabwe. Yet noble intentions have nothing to do with reality. The facts on the ground speak for themselves: aid money will be abused; Mugabe is in charge of the body politic and it is him who wants to benefit from travelling to London, not twelve million traumatised Zimbabweans who cannot even afford to pay school fees.
As long as our Parliament can instill confidence in investors, repeal all the obnoxious laws that violate property, civic and political rights, Zimbabwe can finance its own resurgence without ‘dirty’ money. For that, we do not need aid, but a paradigm shift and free trade.
Rejoice Ngwenya is President of Coalition for Liberal Market Solutions, a think tank affiliated with African Liberty and based in Harare.